Authors: Robert Klane
"You can do it you can do it," Uncle Bernie said.
"I don't know."
"Look"—Uncle Bernie was pleading—"if you get the ring back, I'll even throw a wedding."
Nemiroff turned to walk out. Uncle Bernie grabbed his arm. "Get me off the hook and I'll say a blessing for you."
"Never mind the blessing, just don't forget the ring and the wedding."
Tears came to Uncle Bernie's eyes, his lower lip jutted out slightly. "For a person who wasn't Jewish for so long, you certainly got back into it fast."
Nemiroff approached the door to the arts and crafts room very cautiously. He could hear Mr. Green humming a Bach Fugue. Nemiroff peeked around the door and saw Mr. Green in the middle of some strange dance. Mr. Green saw Nemiroff and stopped immediately.
"Go away," Mr. Green said, "it's too late now. In case you haven't heard, I'm engaged to Uncle Bernie.
Nemiroff moved carefully inside the door and positioned himself with his back to a wall. "That's what I want to talk to you about," he said.
Mr. Green started to dance again. "I told you, you should have grabbed me when you had the chance."
"I'm not interested in you," Nemiroff said.
Mr. Green stopped dancing. "You're not?"
"Then what do you want?" He took a step toward Nemiroff.
"Don't come any closer, I can talk to you from there."
Mr. Green stopped. "Oh, you're such a tease." Mr. Green giggled.
Nemiroff figured he better get it over with fast "Listen, Mr. Green."
"Miss Helen, Miss Helen," Mr. Green protested.
"O.K." Nemiroff started again. "Listen, Miss Helen, Uncle Bernie doesn't want to many you. He thought you were a girl when he proposed to you."
"That's his problem," Mr. Green sniffed. "He asked me to marry him."
"But he didn't mean it," Nemiroff tried to explain. "You've got to give him the ring back."
"I will not," Mr. Green snapped. Nemiroff's patience was running out. "But he's not going to marry you, so you might as well give him the ring back."
Mr. Green stared at Nemiroff. "Did Uncle Bernie send you in here?"
"Yes." Nemiroff figured he might as well tell the truth.
"Well, you can tell that fat slob that I was promised a wedding and I expect to get one." Mr. Green stamped his foot. "I love weddings, and besides, I have the most beautiful gown picked out."
"I tell you Uncle Bernie is not going to marry you," Nemiroff shouted.
A light dawned in Mr. Green's eyes. "Has he found another guy?"
"Don't be stupid," Nemiroff screamed. "He doesn't want to marry a guy, that's why he's not going to marry you. Now give me the ring back."
Mr. Green started to pout "What are you so interested in getting the ring back for?"
"Because if I get it back, I can give it to Miss Booe as an engagement present"
Mr. Green stopped for a moment "You're going to marry Miss Booe? You picked her over me?"
Mr. Green put his hands on his hips. "What the hell is wrong with everybody around here?"
"Nothing is wrong with us," Nemiroff said.
"What else did he promise you?" Mr. Green asked.
"He's going to give us a wedding," Nemiroff admitted.
Mr. Green started to jump up and down. "He's going to give you a wedding? What about my fucking wedding?"
"It's off," Nemiroff said.
"But I blew three hundred dollars on a dress," Mr. Green said. "Nobody'll even see me in it"
"Tough," Nemiroff said.
"Unless"—the light was back in Mr. Green's eyes —"unless you let me be the maid of honor at your wedding."
Nemiroff's heart jumped. "You're crazy. You're out of your fucking mind."
"Uh um," Mr. Green said, "no maid of honor, no ring, no wedding."
Nemiroff was ready to kill him. "That's blackmail."
"That's life," Mr. Green said. "What do you say?"
Nemiroff thought for a few moments. What the hell, it wouldn't be too bad. So he had a guy as his maid of honor. If it would solve the problem, might as well. "O.K.," Nemiroff said. "Now give me the ring back."
Mr. Green squealed with delight He gave the ring back to Nemiroff and planted a wet kiss on his mouth.
Nemiroff fought him off. "If you do that again, you're out of the wedding," Nemiroff said.
Mr. Green just kept squealing.
"So that's the deal," Nemiroff was telling Miss Booe. "Either I let Mr. Green be the maid of honor, or there's no wedding."
"That's all right Nemiroff," Miss Booe said. "Just think of how much money we'll save by letting Uncle Bernie pay for it."
"I'm glad you're not mad," Nemiroff said. "I love you."
"I love you, too," she said.
Nemiroff was awakened from a sound sleep by the ringing of the telephone. He drowsily reached for it and knocked the receiver on the floor. "Hello," he shouted down to the receiver.
"Hello, Nemiroff?" came a weak answer.
Nemiroff bent down and picked up the phone. "Hello," he said again.
"Hi," said a cheery voice. It was a woman's voice. It sounded vaguely familiar to Nemiroff.
"Who is this?" he asked.
"This is your mother," the voice said.
"Your mother," the voice repeated.
"I don't know anyone called Mother," Nemiroff said and started to hang up the phone.
"Wait, wait," the voice shouted, "it's me, it's Mrs. Nemiroff."
"Oh," Nemiroff said, surprised. "Mrs. Nemiroff. How are you?"
"We're fine. Your father and I have decided to come home."
"What for?" Nemiroff asked.
"We've been speaking to people," she went on. "They've been telling us how you've changed. How you became Jewish again and how you even got a girl friend who can stand you, and who's going to marry you."
"Yes," Nemiroff said, "I guess it's true."
"So your father and I decided to come home." She paused for a few seconds. "You didn't sell anything, did you?"
"No," Nemiroff said, "everything is still here."
"Good," she sighed, "we'll be home in a few days. Goodbye."
"Goodbye, Mrs. Nemiroff," he replied.
"Call me Mom," she said.
"Call me Mom."
"Goodbye, Mom," Nemiroff said, hanging up the phone.
Miss Booe rolled over in the bed. "Who was that?"
Nemiroff was white. "You're not going to believe this," he said. "It was Mrs. Nemiroff. She wants me to call her Mom." He stared into Miss Booe's eyes. "Can you imagine," he said, "she wants me to call her Mom."
Miss Booe reached out and touched Nemiroff. "I think that's wonderful."
"I think you're wonderful." He blinked back a few tears. "I think the whole fucking world is wonderful."
On the way to camp the next morning Nemiroff realized that the world was full of colors. Beautiful colors. After years of seeing everything in black and white it was a thrill to suddenly discover greens and reds and blues and yellows and browns. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful world. Those beautiful kids. Those great kids whom Nemiroff loved with all his heart and soul. Beautiful Mrs. Nemiroff. Beautiful Mom. Mom. Beautiful Uncle Bernie, who was blowing for the wedding. And most of all, beautiful Miss Booe. Lovely Miss Booe. Wonderful Miss Booe. Compassionate Miss Booe. Great Miss Booe, without whom Nemiroff never would have discovered all the other beautiful things. It was too much for one person. Nemiroff didn't deserve this kind of happiness, but here it was. And it was beautiful.
For the next few days Uncle Bernie was very busy planning Nemiroff's wedding. He decided that it would be a great public relations bit to have the wedding right at Camp Winituck. He would invite all of the parents, serve them a lot of booze and get them all smashed up, and then get them to sign their kids up for the next summer. It would save Uncle Bernie a lot of time and trouble.
The kids in Nemiroff's group had all agreed to serve as ushers, and Nemiroff was proud as hell that they were eager to be a part of his wedding. These kids were terrific.
The wedding was set for the last day of camp. It was going to be a real blast Uncle Bernie had set up a big tent in the middle of the baseball diamond. He even rented an old coach that would pull the bride up to the entrance of the tent. Since the coach needed six horses to pull it Uncle Bernie decided to use his own horses. He had a little bit of trouble hitching up the dead horse, but at least Uncle Bernie stuck him way in the back where nobody would notice. "It looks great" Uncle Bernie said. "It looks great. Except for the flies."
The parents and guests started arriving. Soon the tent was packed. Nemiroff's parents arrived and took their place at the front of the tent Miss Booe's parents were sitting alongside them. Nemiroff waited nervously at the head of the tent with Rabbi Rosenberg, who agreed to perform the ceremony for practically nothing. A lousy hundred and fifty because Nemiroff was a friend. The boys from Nemiroff's group looked like perfect gentlemen as they helped the guests to their seats. Nemiroff was proud of them. They looked so great in their rented tuxedos. Even Miss Helen looked beautiful in his new dress.
At last everyone was seated. The ushers waited by the entrance to the tent. One of them gave a signal, and Uncle Bernie started playing the wedding march on his violin. The coach pulled up to the entrance. Two of the ushers opened the door. Out stepped Miss Booe. She was beautiful. She started to walk down the aisle and the ushers followed behind her. Nemiroff put out his hand and helped Miss Booe the last few steps to where he and Rabbi Rosenberg were standing. Miss Booe was beautiful. The rabbi was beautiful. The wedding was beautiful. Everything was beautiful as Nemiroff turned to kiss his new bride. They held each other for a long time. Then Nemiroff whispered I love you in Miss Booe's ear. She squeezed his hand. Uncle Bernie took up the violin again and the couple turned to walk back down the aisle as man and wife.
A few of the parents in the tent started to stand up and clap. Soon everyone was clapping and crying. Mrs. Nemiroff was yelling, "Son, son," as Nemiroff walked by. He turned and smiled at her.
Miss Booe turned and smiled at Nemiroff. "I'm Happy," she said.
"So am I," he said, "it's so wonderful, so perfect What could go wrong?"
Just as Nemiroff finished his last sentence, ten kids in tuxedos piled onto Nemiroff and started to beat him into the ground.
"Get the son of a bitch," one of the kids yelled. "Kill him," said another. They climbed all over his back and wrestled Nemiroff to the ground. "We've been waiting all summer for this."
Nemiroff disappeared in a mass of flying feet and fists. The kids had him pinned to the ground and were jumping all over him.
"Nemiroff, Nemiroff," Miss Booe shrieked. The kids kept hitting and biting. Then, from somewhere deep at the bottom of the pile, Miss Booe heard Nemiroff scream back, "I told you, I told you I should never turn my back on the lousy sons of bitches."